Notes Tigers 9-Iron Follies Cink Stops Sergio

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- After hitting an approach shot to the seventh green, Tiger Woods asked his caddie, Steve Williams, to rinse the mud off his 9-iron.
 
Williams went above and beyond. Dipping the club into the River Liffey, Williams lost his balance on a slick rock. Something had to give.
 
'It was him or the 9-iron going into the drink,' Woods said. 'He chose the 9-iron.'
 
Woods and Williams laughed about the gaffe -- easier to do because Woods won his match pretty easily. He played the next seven holes with only 13 clubs.
 
It was only an issue once -- on 11 -- when Woods was 127 yards for his approach, 'the perfect number' for his 9-iron. He hit a choked down 8 instead and made birdie.
 
Later, a diver retrieved the club, and Woods got it back on No. 15.
 
'Stevie dried the grip, and it was fine,' Woods said.
 
STOPPING SERGIO
Once again, Sunday was cruel to Sergio Garcia. Not at a major, but at his own personal playground, the Ryder Cup.
 
The 4-and-3 loss to Stewart Cink hardly muted his celebration, though. Garcia failed to become the first European to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup, but his first four victories set the stage for Europe's win. When it was over, he showed no signs of being upset.
 
Really, there was no beating Cink on this day. He was at his best. He made four birdies over the first five holes to run to a 3-up lead. It got to 5 up from there.
 
'I don't think he had a hot putter. I think his putter melted,' said Garcia, who left with a 14-4-2 lifetime record at the Ryder Cup.
 
Cink won his first Ryder Cup singles match in three tries.
 
'It was probably my best match-play experience of my life today,' he said.
 
GOLFER IN CHIEF
The Ryder Cup players weren't the only Americans with sad tales to tell from The K Club.
 
Bill Clinton, on hand to watch the final round of the exhibition, played here in the past and said it was a struggle.
 
'I know I didn't break 90,' he said. 'I think I shot a 91. I know I didn't get close to my handicap.'
 
The former President's handicap is reported by many to be around 12. Many theories abound, of course, about what that number really should be. He has a reputation as an unabashed mulligan taker, a guy who keeps hitting shots until he likes the result.
 
But he wasn't telling any tall tales about his trip around the Irish course, 'from the blue tees' -- the championship tees -- which play at 7,337 yards.
 
'I spent half the time trying to stay out of the water,' he said. 'Very difficult, pretty much at every turn.'
 
Clinton said he appreciates the Ryder Cup for the same reason most people do.
 
'It's because it's team, not an individual sport,' Clinton said. 'It's got variations that make it endlessly interesting -- the mix of personalities and mix of forms of play.'
 
'And,' Clinton added, 'this is a very hard course.'
 
BIG BUST
There's no other way to put it, except to say Phil Mickelson had an awful Ryder Cup. He lost 2 and 1 to Jose Maria Olazabal on Sunday to finish 0-4-1 for the week and drop to 1-9-1 over his last 11 matches.
 
What happened?
 
'Obviously, I expected to get more points than a half,' Mickelson said. 'But I felt like we were in every match.'
 
Mickelson did nothing to quiet those who say he's too burned out come September to be effective in this event, or those who advanced the theory that he might never be the same after his 18th-hole meltdown at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
 
Like Woods, captain Tom Lehman and pretty much everyone on the U.S. team, Mickelson agreed the lack of clutch putting did in the whole team.
 
'It comes back down to the greens,' he said. 'It's just going to make me work harder in putting in the offseason because I just didn't make anything, and that was certainly frustrating.'
 
VERPLANK'S ACE
Scott Verplank already was having a good day. He was 3-up in his singles match with Padraig Harrington and on his way to winning his second Ryder Cup point when he stepped up to the tee on the 14th hole.
 
Verplank had the honors and hit an iron at the flag 213 yards away. His aim was true, and the ball hopped into the hole for the second ace of this Ryder Cup.
 
'I just turned around and then told Padraig, 'Well, it's your shot now,'' Verplank said.
 
Harrington had to make an ace himself to avoid going four down with four to go. He hit a good shot, but it ended up eight feet short.
 
Verplank halved the next hole with Harrington to win the match 4 and 3. It was a rare bright spot in a frustrating day for the U.S. team.
 
'Just a lucky shot,' Verplank said. 'I hit a nice-looking shot. It never left the flag. But to go in is pretty lucky.'
 
Paul Casey made a hole-in-one on the same hole Saturday. His was even more dramatic, though, winning the match for he and David Howell against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson.
 
DIVOTS
London-based sports book William Hill called the 2008 Ryder Cup a toss-up, offering even-money on either team. Spokesman Graham Sharpe said it's the first time the Europeans aren't being tabbed as an underdog for a Ryder Cup on U.S. turf. Odds on the Europeans fielding the same 12 players as this year were 33-1. The odds on the Americans fielding the same team two years hence? 'About a million to 1, I'd guess,' Sharpe said. ... Lee Westwood played his match against Chris DiMarco with flu symptoms. He gingerly drank from a bottle of champagne during Europe's otherwise raucous celebration. ... Colin Montgomerie improved 6-0-2 in Ryder Cup singles matches.
 
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


    Getty Images

    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

    Getty Images

    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

    Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.